Monday, August 13, 2018

Making sawdust

I managed to find some time this past week to get a start on the benchwork for "Phase 1."
The Ivar shelves are working out pretty much as expected. I did need to lower the grid framework to clear a light switch. Murphy's Law saw to it that the height of the Ivar shelves would have put the benchwork dead center on the light switches! 
Since that area will be where two wood trestles are located, I needed to lower the base height slightly so it worked out well. 
If pressed I will claim that I planned it that way.... 
While the vast majority of the benchwork will be open grid as show here, since the Richford peninsula is kinda oddly shaped I'm going to use L-girder there since it will be easier to create a more "free-form" look than the myriad of angle cuts that would required for open grid. 
One thing I'm doing on this layout (lesson learned from last one!) is using pocket screws to make it easier to move the cross members when/if that proves necessary. I'm trying to avoid having access to any screws prevented by the screw ending up against the wall or buried behind scenery or behind the fascia where it would be very difficult to access.  

Tuesday, August 7, 2018

Something I need to get back to...

I recently unpacked my Mac desktop and set it up in the office in the new house. Knowing that this machine would be packed up for a while once we moved, I'd transferred a bunch of information to a portable hard drive that I figured I could use with my laptop while we were living in the apartment. 
One of the things I intended to work on during this "between layout (and house!) time" was the artwork for some Central Vermont lettering - especially things like the flatcars and MofW cars. 
Of course I transferred the Illustrator file that I'd started working on several years ago to the hard drive. 
Great, except that I neglected to remember that I didn't have Illustrator loaded on the laptop. 
The screen capture above serves as a reminder that I'd like to get back to this project. 
First I have find all the bits and pieces on this machine!

Thursday, August 2, 2018

White River Junction Coaling Tower - Photos












Resin Freight Car Cleanup tips

If your summer has been as wet as ours has been perhaps you were Googling "ark building" when you stumbled across this blog. 
In the interest of providing something useful on this blog I'll go ahead and offer a few tidbits on preparing resin kits. That's a perfect task for the summer modeling season. 
These are bits and pieces of a planned eBook on building and detailing rolling stock. While I still hope to finish that book - someday - in the meantime here's a couple of things from the cutting room floor.


Cleaning up the parts 
No matter the manufacturer, I start by cleaning the parts before assembly, and then follow up with a pre-painting touch up cleaning. 
Different manufacturers use different mold releases - some of them are really hard to clean off completely - and you won't realize it's still there until you try to paint the model and the paint either beads up or comes off in sheets. Sylvan mold release seems to be the toughest. 
I've tried warm soapy water, Goo Gone, Sylvan resin prep (which I'm pretty sure is some form of Goo gone), but one thing I've found always works pretty well is Shout. After removing the resin sheets from the tissue paper wrapping I gave each of the parts a shot of "Shout" (yes, the laundry stain pre-treat stuff) and scrub them gently with a toothbrush  before rinsing them under warm water. Then I put the parts aside to dry.

A few tools
I don't use a lot of fancy tools to build these kits, mostly a razor blade, an X-acto, some sanding sticks/files, pliers (to form wire), tweezers, a small machinists square, and starting in the last few years, an Opti-visor....
For drilling holes for grabs and brake components and the like, I prefer my drill press - but an old fashioned (but perfectly serviceable) pin vise works just as well.  Two tools that I find are really useful are shown in the photo to the right: 
The NWSL True-Sander 
Coffman right corner clamps

Removing flash
The most tedious part of building a resin freight car is cleaning up the parts.
But time and care spent on this task definitely shows on the finished model. Despite what the instructions say, I don't clean off all the parts before I start constructing the model. For one thing, I'd run out of enthusiasm before getting started, and for another I'd likely lose half the parts before getting everything together!


If there's a trick to removing the flash it's to be careful to not accidentally remove any detail that should be there. On flat kits it's quite common to find the sides or ends have some detail that needs to be preserved. A perfect example are the rivets on the side of the ends of this car - you might be tempted to sand the edge flat on your NWSL Tru-Sander - but you'd be removing the rivets and other details. The trick is to remove the flash without destroying the detail in the process.  For this, I use a razor blade held at a steep angle to scrape away the resin flash. I've found it's sometimes better to use a slightly dull razor blade for this scraping technique. A sharp, fresh blade can sometimes slice right into the resin whereas a dull blade will meet with just enough resistance that you can avoid digging into the part. 
To remove flash from openings, such as the end of this ventilated boxcar, I use a hobby knife and trim the resin flash to the edges, then use sanding sticks and/or files to true up the openings.